Online chat today

BULLETIN: I just returned home from doing the online chat. My thanks to all of you who joined me and my sincere apologies for all those questions I didn’t get to. I was originally told to expect to be online about 20 -30 minutes. After more than 60 minutes I hadn’t responded to half the long list of questions that kept pouring in.

I am especially sorry that so many students had questions that went unanswered. I needed another hour or more.

You teachers with disappointed students, please send me the unanswered questions. I promise to respond here on the blog over the next day or two. And that goes for any adults who didn’t get an answer. Okay?

My thanks to our December poets who have been sharing delightful efforts inspired by “bone.” So far we’ve heard at least once from Steven Withrow, Tricia Stohr-Hunt, Mary Nida Smith, Liz Korba, Barbara Turner, Jackie Huppenthal, Andromeda Jazmon, Diane Mayr, Janet Gallagher, and Marjie DeWilde. The range of format, message, and depth of the poems has shown once again how many stories a single word can hold.

So far this month we have not heard from our student poets. We know how busy December is for teachers and students alike, but I hold out hope that we’ll still be treated to some bone poems by our young poets out there!


Today I’ll be featured on an online chat hosted by 417 Magazine. You can find me at starting at 2:00 P.M. CST.Writers, teachers, librarians, parents, and students are welcome to click in on the interview or join in with questions. I hope to hear from a lot of my blog friends. You can read more at .


Cheryl Harness

BULLETIN: Tomorrow (December 9) I’ll be featured on an online chat hosted by 417 Magazine. You can find me at starting at 2:00 P.M. CST.

Writers, teachers, librarians, parents, and students are welcome to click in on the interview or join in with questions. I hope to hear from a lot of my blog friends so BE THERE!


Many readers who drop by my blog have a strong interest in poetry. However, when I did the survey not long ago, it was clear that many of you would like to read more about fiction and nonfiction, including picture books. That made me think not only of outstanding writers I know in those genres but also outstanding artists.Today I’m delighted to tell you that Cheryl Harness has signed on to be an upcoming guest. If you haven’t yet met Cheryl through her work, you are in for a treat. She is both artist and author, a witty speaker, and one of those rare individuals who understands history as a continuum of human experience in which we are merely players in an ongoing story. I’m eager to see Cheryl’s remarks when she finishes them.

I hope you are enjoying this month’s poems as much as I am. Through the first seven days we’ve seen ten poets share thirteen poems, each inspired by the December word: bone. We’ve been treated to a haiku, two villanelles, and a number of strong efforts in verse and free verse. I hope to see a number of other poets join us before the cutoff on December 21.


More about Young Poets’ WORD OF THE MONTH Poems

Yesterday I invited teachers to learn how this blog is designed to encourage students to join the word of the month poetry challenge. Some asked about the permission form so Kathy Temean created a form and posted it where you can find it easily once you click on Young Poets’ Word of the Month Poems.

We both want to make sure you understand that there is no fee involved in completing the parental permission to allow students to participate in my poetry challenge. We’re asking you to e-mail the form to YAAGroup (Young Authors and Artists Group) because they have a structure to keep track of such matters and it saves me from getting bogged down in record keeping. For that I am grateful!

There is a fee only if a teacher or parent decides to purchase a membership for a child in the YAAGroup itself. That agreement is at the bottom of the same permission form but is a separate issue from the top part. The YAAGroup provides great opportunities to help students develop their writing potential, and I recommend it, but Kathy and I want to make sure that everyone understands that we are talking about two different things on the form.

If you have questions about any of this, contact Kathy about the YAAGroup and me about this blog or anything else.

Thanks! Now back to writing those “thanks” poems!


How to get started

Since we are seeing a growing number of poems inspired by dirt, I thought this would be a good time to demonstrate one of my favorite methods to get started on those days when my muse seems to be out for coffee. I call this Association. Here’s how it works.

Write a word at the top of the page on the left, leaving room for two more columns to the right. Below that word, write at least three things the word makes you think of. Choose one of those three to head the second column. Again, think of three things that word or phrase makes you think of. Choose one of those three to head the third column and repeat the exercise.

You now have nine thought starters. Of course you can make your lists longer and keep adding columns if you wish. I’ve made columns as long as a dozen associations. You can see how quickly this engages your imagination. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for ideas for poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. As an example I’ve chosen (what else?) dirt.

(1st column)


dishing the dirt
dirty trick
dirty joke

(2nd column)


not fair

(3rd column)


breaking a leg
two tests in one day
missing the bus

Notice how far the list has evolved by the third column and how dissimilar the ideas have become. Even if you don’t develop an idea further, this is a good warm-up exercise to kick start the day.


The other day I suggested that you look at Kathy Temean’s announcement about YOUNG AUTHORS AND ARTISTS GROUP ( Since then I’ve accepted Kathy’s invitation to serve on a panel of authors who will be involved in offering advice to young writers. I look forward to working with Kathy and other members of the panel for this new organization. I copied the information below from Kathy’s blog. Please refer to Kathy to learn more.

Do you know a young adult or child who is interested in writing or art? I would like to introduce you to a new organization – Young Authors and Artisit Group, fondly known as YAAGroup –

If you are a teacher and want to use their materials in you classroom, they have a special for you, too.

If you are a published author and want to be considered for placement on their Author/Illustrator Panel, click here for the form and please e-mail it to the link below.  There are lots of advantages for authors & illustrators, so check it out.  One is having your picture, bio, website and books listed.  Plus, children and teachers will be regularly reminded about you and what you do when they visit.